Bird tests positive for West Nile Virus in El Dorado County

(Franco Patrizia)
Published: Aug. 2, 2023 at 11:12 AM PDT
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EL DORADO COUNTY, California (KOLO) - Health officials in El Dorado County, California have confirmed that a bird found in the Lotus area tested positive for West Nile Virus.

This confirmation is the first of its kind for 2023. Health officials identified the bird, collected on July 21, as a House Finch.

West Nile Virus activity was not detected in El Dorado County throughout all of 2022.

“Birds are common carriers of West Nile virus,” said Olivia Byron-Cooper, Interim Director of Health and Human Services. “Mosquitos bite birds and become infected with the virus then pass the infection when they bite people or animals. It is not spread from person to person.”

Most people infected with West Nile Virus show no symptoms, El Dorado County health officials say. Some may exhibit high fever, severe headache, tiredness and/or a stiff neck that lasts anywhere between several days and a week.

In serious cases, the infections can lead to an inflammation of the brain, which can be fatal.

Mosquito surveillance programs have been put in place throughout the county. Officials have been trapping and identifying mosquitos, treating neglected swimming pools, and reporting and testing dead birds.

“There are simple steps residents can take to reduce the likelihood of contracting and spreading West Nile Virus,” said Byron-Cooper.

According to county health officials, those include:

  • Drain standing water around the property and keep water in swimming pools, ponds and water troughs circulating or treated with “Mosquito Dunks” or mosquito fish.
  • Apply insect repellent that contains DEET or another approved substance (e.g. picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535) on exposed skin when outdoors.
  • Dress in long sleeves and pants when outdoors among mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. CONTACT: Carla Hass (530) 621-4609 JOINT PRESS RELEASE El Dorado County Environmental Management Department and Public Health Division
  • Make sure doors and windows have tight fitting screens, kept in good condition
  • Report dead birds and tree squirrels to the State West Nile Virus hotline at (877) WNV-BIRD (877-968-2473) or online at Wear gloves and place the dead bird or squirrel in a double plastic bag if you dispose of it yourself.

Problems with mosquitos and neglected swimming pools should be reported to the El Dorado County Environmental Management Department at (530) 621-6200 on the West Slope, or (530)-573-3450 in South Lake Tahoe.